Aviation leaders have mixed views about the outlook for the UK’s Open Skies agreement in the light of Brexit, debate at a recent conference has suggested.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG – which owns British Airways – is reported as saying he is confident that a deal will be done to secure Britain’s flying rights after Brexit.

Anyone who doesn’t believe there will be a comprehensive Open Skies agreement is “living in cloud cuckoo land,” he said, dismissing a Financial Times report which claimed that the United States had offered Britain a worse deal than it has under the EU-US Open Skies agreement.


Ryanair’s chief executive, Micahel O’Leary, was less optimistic, however, Reuters reports. He said he expects disruption to flights between Britain and the rest of Europe in the immediate aftermath of Britain’s planned exit from the EU in March next year.

“I think there will be a real crisis in April 2019. I believe there will be disruption to flights between the UK and Europe,” O’Leary commented.

Both were speaking at the Airlines For Europe conference.

Earlier this week, Airbus, one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing employers, warned that it may have to stockpile parts to operate smoothly after the UK leaves the EU.

Brexit approaches

FINN recently ran a panel discussion about the implications of Brexit for the aerospace industry at the ADS CEO Briefing. The panellists were Scott McLarty, VP UK & Malaysia, Spirit AeroSystems; Colin Smith, Chairman of the Aerospace Growth Partnership & President, ADS; and Paul Everitt, CEO, ADS.

While they acknowledged Brexit brings serious challenges, Everitt also stressed, “We’ve been very clear with government that to understand what our new relationship with the rest of the EU is going to be will take some time…So the focus for us is to ensure that we get an early agreement.”

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